Montgomery County Issuing Thousands More Red Light Tickets With Improved Technology

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Cars drive past a red light camera sign. (Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Cars drive past a red light camera sign. (Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

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SILVER SPRING, Md. (WNEW) — In the 2013 fiscal year, red light cameras in Montgomery County issued 43,522 tickets to drivers who failed to stop at intersections. Nine months into the 2014 fiscal year, more than 46,000 tickets have been doled out.

Though the final numbers still need to be tallied up, the county wrapped up the 2014 fiscal year at the end of June on pace to issue 60,000 tickets issued to red light runners.

Police can explain why with no hesitation. For one, the county has boosted the number of cameras posted at intersections. But Captain Tom Didone, head of the county’s Automated Traffic Enforcement Unit, says better technology is also allowing the county to nab more violators with less ambiguity, now that cameras using still photos have been replaced by cameras using video.

“They’re more effective as a result,” he says. “They don’t miss the violations that some of the older cameras did…Now we have video. It works either using radar or speed pucks in the ground and they’re able to work with an algorithm to more accurately detect when a vehicle is going to be violating a red light.”

The video makes it much simpler for police to tell which drivers had a blatant disregard for the red light. And Didone says that’s who police are looking for.

“We never do the edge over the line bit,” says Didone. “We do people that disregard the red light. Whether they’re going straight through traffic or they’re doing the right turn (without stopping)… If you stop just across the line, or you make an almost stop we give you the favorable light in that situation.”

AAA, which has been very vocal in its opposition of automated enforcement meant strictly to generate revenue, says the county is doing it right in this case.

“We applaud what Montgomery County is doing,” AAA spokesman John Townsend says, “because they’re being transparent and they’re going on a case by case basis and they’re not issuing tickets to persons who make a good faith effort to come to a complete stop… Red light camera violations should be cracked down on if a person is legitimately and illegally running a red light.”

WNEW’s John Domen contributed to this report. Follow him and WNEW on Twitter.

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